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Gammaworld, Part I

Season One, Episode 12

Director(s) Vinton Heuck, Sebastian Montes
Writer(s) Alan Fine, Christopher Yost, and Michael Ryan
Summary  The Black Panther, Iron Man, and Wasp and Captain America are chasing a villain - a fast villain - across the rooftops. As Iron Man scans the malefactor, we see that its Hawkeye, who, after a short chase, is cornered in an alleyway. A SHIELD aircraft noisily hovers over the confrontation, and calls to the Avengers, and when the Avengers are distracted, Hawkeye vanishes. SHIELD Agent Clay Quartermain tells the Avengers tells the Avengers that Hawkeye's escape isn't why SHIELD is here; they need the Avengers' help.

The Quinjet follows the SHIELD craft into the American Southwest, where we can see the Cube surrounded by the green energy dome deployed in the last minutes of the previous episode. They land at the SHIELD command post, and Iron Man tells us that the dome is almost pure gamma radiation, and that Ant-Man will be sorry he stayed in Wakanda to study vibranium. They're greeted by Doc Sampson, who asks why Bruce Banner isn't with them, and is told that the Hulk is "on a vacation".

SHIELD shows the Avengers the footage from the team that was scouting the Cube, and what happened when the gama dome xploded outward; all the SHIELD agents caught in the radiation changed into Gamma-mutated creatures. The dome is still expanding outwards, and will reach a small town in about six hours - and a major city in eight. The expanding gamma dome is the plan of the Leader, who is as smart as the Hulk is strong. The Leader is still inside the Cube, SHIELD thinks, with all the escaped prisoners as his small army of guards. SHIELD wants the Avengers to enter the Cube and stop him. The Wasp peals with laughter. "Oh wait... you're serious!" she quips, turning serious.

Meanwhile, the Black Widow is striding down a deserted alleyway. She enters a HYDRA base, while Hawkeye is filming, trying to gather evidence to clear himself. Hawkeye breaks into the base, following her. Arrows fly as he attacks the Hydra agents, who are working to assemble (no relation) a large device of some sort.

In the desert around the Cube, the dome continues to expand. SHIELD has modified radiation suits for the Avengers, but Thor declares that an Asgardian needs no such protection. Everyone but Thor and Iron Man, but including Doc Sampson, suit up in the untested radiation suits. Iron Man activates special gamma shielding for his armor. They approach the dome, along with a couple of SHIELD agents and Doc Sampson, and enter the gamma zone, which looks like a war zone. Comm links don't work inside the zone, as the Avengers are unable to reach the SHIELD base camp.

The Avengers task force is attacked by the former SHIELD agents who had already been irradiated. The Avengers take them down, and Thor observes that they are a far cry from the Hulk, even though they share his origins. Doc Sampson quickly scans them, postulating that once they are removed from the gamma zone, they should revert to human form with no lasting effect. Doc Sampson feels responsible for the gamma zone; Banner tried to warn him, but he didn't listen to Banner.

Meanwhile, the Black Widow is meeting with Madame Hydra, turning over a small sample of the Hulk's blood. Both the Black Widow and Madame Hydra are drawn to the sound of explosions outside the office; Hawkeye is chewing up Hydra agents and Dreadnaught robots left and right. The Black Widow attacks the archer, putting out Hawkeye's lights in a sneak attack.

The SHIELD command post reports to the Helicarrier that they cannot reach the Avengers; something is blocking the comm signal. Inside the zone, the Avengers are ambushed by the U-Foes. As they attack the Avengers, Vector brags that the devices they wear that Sampson designed to drain their gamma-induced powers have been re-wired by the Leader to enhance and boost their abilities to unprecedented levels. However, the U-Foes are a distraction, while Zzzax attacks the SHIELD agents. Thor attacks Zzzax,and the eleictical storm feeds back into Iron Man's armor, shorting out the extra gamma shielding, and shorts out Wasp's radiation suit. She begins to mutate into a gamma-induced wasplike creature and attacks the other Avengers while the Leader gloats. Other gamma monsters attack as well, and the Black Panther seems to run away. The U-Foes and Zzzax recover. Surrounded, Stark orders Sampson to go take out the gamma dome generator while Thor, Iron Man and Captain America cover him.

Hawkeye is awoken by the Black Widow on the burning Hydra warehoiuse floor, and Hawkeye taunts her to shoot him. Enraged at being called "Hydra Scum", she engages Hawkeye in hand-to-hand combat once more, and they're off for Round Two! Its the Widow's Sting vs Hawkeye's arrows, and when the smoke clears the Black Widow is Hawkeye's prisoner. She appeals to him to let her go, pointing out he can't take her to SHIELD. He replies that's why he plans on taking her to the Avengers!

Back in the Cube, Iron Man is tangled up by gamma monsters. Captain America commands Thor to keep protecting Sampson; Captain America will go to Iron Man's assistance. Thor departs, and its Iron Man and Captain America against a half-dozen gamma-powered monstrosities. A surprise attack from Zzzax puts down Captain America, and Iron Man repeats the plea to Thor and Doc Sampson to destroy the generator. They reach the generator, which is not guarded by the Leader - but rather by the Wrecking Crew. They pop those power-enhancer devices and dog-pile on Thor while Pile Driver holds Sampson prisoner.

The Black Panther has managed to reach the gamma dome generator undetected -0- You didn't really think he was running away, did you? For shame! -- and he spikes the machinery with his vibranium darts. It explodes, and the gamma dome collapses. Those who had mutated revert to their normal forms.

Hawkeye is speeding to the Avengers, with the Black Widow tied up on his skycycle.

SHIELD is rounding up the Leader's minions while the Avengers are being checked by SHIELD medics. The Cube has no sign of the Leader, but Doc Sampson is optimistic - they saved a lot of lives today, and foiled the Leader's plan. "Did we?" observes the Black Panther.

The Leader is shown accompanied by the Absorbing Man and the Abomination. The Cube was just a test-run - and now the Leader begins the real plan!
Commentary  Up front, I confess; I am not the world's biggest Hulk fan, which perhaps explains why this episode didn't do as much for me as the others.  All of my big excitements were related to the Hawkeye sub-plot; the Black Widow fight, his beautiful use of his arrows, and the appearance (at long last - I'd seen her in some of the promo artwork) of Madame Hydra (also known as Viper, but as she's apparently one of Von Strucker's officers, I'm going with the old name until directly contradicted).

For Hulk fans, the villains list was probably a delight, with ZZzzax, the U-Foes, the "burning-skull-man" who I don't recognize, and Doc Sampson.  I would have liked seeing Doc Sampson get a little more screen time and action, but with a sizable cast and tons of villains, I understand the difficulty.  Besides, I'd rather have seen any real "rocke 'em, sock 'em" time given to the Avengers' own heavy hitters, Iron Man and Thor.

In fact, I think that was my big problem with the episode; the pacing seemed off.  There was so much going on that things seemed rather rushed.  I'd have liked to seen this particular episode as a two-parter all by itself; there was enoug potential there for some rather epic combat scenes that we missed out on because of space constraints.

Other thoughts:

* I'm liking the slowly-building relationship between Captain America and Iron Man.  Stark has clearly never had to actually develop any leadership skills at this point in the character's development, and its interesting to see Captain America nudging him along that path.

* I've never thought that most rooftops could take a motorcycle landing on them without crashing through to the next level - but it would hardly be impressive for Captain America to be out of the chase after jumping the first rooftop.

* Ah, the Black Panther has the vibranium soles in his boots that let him stick to walls. More Christopher Priest-inspired goodness!

* Apparently Hank Pym has stayed behind in Wakanda to study vibranium.

* Wasp continues to get all the funny lines.

* Wasp puts on the radiation, and then checks to see how her butt looks in them.

* Madame Hydra makes her first appearance.

* One of the SHIELD agents irradiated takes on a form much like the classic Hulk villain, the Harpy (except she's not green).
Notes Youtube (both 12 and 13):
Part One
Part Two
Part Three